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The Revitalizing Experience of Travel

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During the third year of my undergraduate degree I, like many others seeking a new adventure, decided to partake in an international exchange program to Istanbul, Turkey.

I knew it would be the experience of a lifetime; after all, that’s what everyone had said. But actually conveying how life changing it was is a whole different story. I had experiences and met people that have forever changed my life, who I am, and how I see myself. Yes, I was looking for adventure, but in the process I came to also better understand myself, my family, and what I want for my future.

There is no one word, one sentence, or one song lyric—nothing that can even come close to summarizing how incredible and absolutely unbelievable the entire experience was for me.

The time abroad opened my young eyes to a fascinating world of intelligent, motivated, and cultured young people that I have, so fortunately, now too become a part of. Specifically, there were 15 people from all over the world who quickly became like family to me. Many of them were well-traveled, well-networked, and hard-working Master’s students and as such, it was a wake-up call to the world of international studies, internships, and work. We did everything together: ate, partied, traveled, slept, and studied; and when I left Istanbul in June 2011, I had no idea how I was supposed to continue my university life without them in it. So for a year and a half we talked regularly (some more than others) and I made the effort to see the few who lived in North America, but as the months passed, the girl I was in Turkey started to get diluted by my routine studying, working, and having a social life.

So, last month, I decided I needed another wake-up call and booked a ticket to Barcelona for a reunion. I won’t bore you with a lengthy story about this amazing city, but I’ll say that it ended up being just the revitalizing experience I was looking for.

I am currently, like many of you, working full-time in an area I love while awaiting word on my future studies. My life is in limbo and sometimes that makes it easy to lose track of oneself and all the good things you have. But if I can continue to take one thing away from the exchange experience it is that pushing your limits and testing yourself in new and exciting environments—academically, socially, and professionally—is the only way you can continue to grow.

There is no way that you will ever find yourself in a textbook, and reading about people’s adventures in blogs, articles, and novels will not be able to motivate and energize you like first-hand experiences can. It could be argued that Istanbul gave me an everlasting dosage of caffeine; I just needed a little espresso shot in Barcelona to keep it going.

Yes, many people have invaluable experiences while traveling, studying, or living abroad. But not everyone can bring these experiences back to their daily lives and apply them to where it matters most. I witnessed first-hand the creation of an even stronger, independent, and adventurous girl in Turkey two years ago—a girl I have strived to be every day since.

How has traveling revitalized you? Tell us in the comments!

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Lifestyle Study Abroad Travel
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Great points! Can't wait to start traveling more this summer!!!

Testing yourself and pushing yourself is so important! I didn't study abroad, so I don't know how that would have changed me. That said, I am trying to exit my comfort zone from time to time and ensure I am continuously growing.

Traveling for me is a total energy booster, whether it is for a quick weekend getaway, a weeklong escape, or a month long adventure. I always come back feeling revilalized and with a whole new perspective for my day-to-day life.

Thanks for a great article Melisa! I totally agree with you! Travels has for me as well been life changing experiences that have made me realize how amazing the world is and the many wonderful places there are to be explored. But the most amazing thing is traveling is definitely the people we meet on the road! With every plane ticket bought I know I will be more rich with experiences and new friends! It is definitely the best investment we can make! :))

Loved this. I'm studying abroad next semester, and although I've traveled internationally multiple times before, it's only ever been for pleasure. I'm very excited to embark on this new adventure and see where it takes me professionally!

Reading this, I'm brought back to my own experiences with stuyding abroad. I completely emphasize with the reverse culture shock that occurs when we move back home!

Have such a good time. Make sure you make the most of every second of it!

I just got back from a semester abroad in Austria. It was a beautiful experience and I learned a lot about myself. I'm with you with trying to be the girl I was abroad - it's a challenge!

It's so hard to explain how transformative that time is to the people back at home, and how a place that was once totally foreign is now a part of you. The greatest test so far is applying the lessons that we learned abroad to our "home" selves, something that I am struggling to do right now.


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